Journal of Writing & Environment

January’s Fairy Tale Web Rove

Our fiction editor, Lydia Melby, offers some reading suggestions for all things fairy tale. Too cold outside? Stay in and stoke your imagination with this week’s web rove, full of interviews, novel excerpts, reviews, and even a web comic.


If you arent reading Electric Literature’s “Recommended Reading,” then you’ve got some serious catch-up to play. I love this blog as much for the recommender’s notes as for the brilliant, and usually new to me, stories or excerpts they suggest. Here are some recommendations:
Dan Josefson’s That’s Not a Feeling_novel excerpt
Here, Soho Press and Tom Bissell suggest an excerpt from Dan Josefson’s That’s Not a Feeling–and yes, this brief taste suggests the book is just as good as everyone and their mother has suggested.

Steven Milhauser’s “Cathay”
Here, Aimee Bender recommends surreal master Steven Milhauser’s strange and wondrous world, narrated in mysteries.

J. Robert Lennon’s “The Cottage on the Hill”
And finally, J. Robert Lennon’s quietly unsettling story offers one much to ponder, and is suggested by the new journal Unstuck.

Speaking of Unstuck, our fiction editor would like to point out it’s the journal she’s currently most excited about. They explain themselves on their website as an “independent, non-profit annual journal” dedicated to literary fiction with elements of the fantastic, the futuristic, or the surreal… In our pages, you’ll find everything from straight-up science fiction and fantasy to domestic realism with a twist of the improbable.”

While you’ll have to subscribe to get the full wondrous experience, Unstuck‘s website provides excerpts and interviews that will just make you want more.

If you’ve got that constant fairy tale itch, like some of our staff, here’s a great NPR podcast with Tom Ashbrook and Maria Tatar (high queen of fairy tale scholarship) discussing fairy tales and their history in celebration of her new translation, “The Annotated Brother’s Grimm (The Bicentennial Edition).” Depending on your obsession, you may have come across some of the things and themes covered, but overall it’s a lovely and interesting discussion of the bedtime tales still affecting us today.  

Jill Steinhauer, “The Gorey Details”

Jill Steinhauer reviews Edward Gorey’s works and influence on her and many of us, offering an insightful, interesting discussion of his art, his mystery, and, well, his gorey-ness (pun intended!), ultimately offering us an peek into the artist’s “theory of life” as “inexplicable” put into striking, memorable art.

Also, the Los Angeles Review of Books is such a perfect place to read about all the books and art and themes of life you’ve always wanted to see discussed.


 “Hemlock,” Joscelyn Fenton (web comic)

For our readers who love graphic novels and comics as well as the written word, here’s a great web comic (still updating!) about a Scandinavian country witch named Lumi (whose house is built into the shell of her giant snail). “Hemlock” plays on the well-loved Baba Yaga myth, but Lumi’s story is fresh, fun, and exciting (and quite visually gorgeous).